BP, Anadarko, Transocean may face U.S. spill claims

Reuters News
|
Posted: Feb 22, 2012 6:53 PM
BP, Anadarko, Transocean may face U.S. spill claims

(Reuters) - A U.S. judge said BP Plc and Anadarko Petroleum Corp are liable and Transocean Ltd may be liable for civil damages under federal environmental laws over oil spilled following the 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans said Transocean may be liable under the Clean Water Act as an "operator" or "person in charge" of the Macondo well that blew out, and also liable under the Oil Pollution Act for removal costs.

He said BP and Anadarko, which owned a respective 65 percent and 25 percent of the well, are liable under the Clean Water Act for oil discharged beneath the water surface, and under the Oil Pollution Act for removal costs and damages.

The government can seek fines per barrel spilled as high as $1,100, and as much as $4,300 if gross negligence or willful misconduct is found.

Barbier is scheduled on February 27 to oversee a trial to assign blame for the April 20, 2010, rig explosion and subsequent oil spill. Eleven people died, and the disaster is the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

(Reporting By Jonathan Stempel)